One of our readers, coltus, was kind enough to post a great USA Today article featuring the man behind NFL Films, Steve Sabol. If you don't know who Sabol is, stop reading this article right now and look him up. For those of you who do know who is he, it's pretty safe to say the man has watched more film on NFL players, both past and present, than almost anyone in the NFL, and he has a pretty good idea of who is and isn't great in the annals of NFL lore.
So, when Steve Sabol says that Peyton Manning will go down as the "greatest quarterback of all time," then that opinion holds some serious weight.
NFL Films president Steve Sabol says Manning is well on his way to another rarefied place — as in best ever.
"When he retires, he'll go down as the greatest quarterback of all time," Sabol says. "The only player I can remember saying that about while he was playing was Jerry Rice.
"When he was playing, I felt comfortable saying, 'You're looking at the greatest receiver who's ever played.' "
In Sabol's mind, Manning ranks with Rice's former San Francisco 49ers teammate, Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana, and three other icons as he enters his 13th season.
"Peyton's up there on the Mount Rushmore of quarterbacks with Otto Graham, Johnny Unitas, Joe Montana and Sammy Baugh," Sabol says. "He's up there on that mountaintop now. And because of longevity, the way he's such a field general and great passer, he's going to hold every record by the time he retires."
Sabol's opinion on Manning is likely not shared by television commentators like Chris Collinsworth, but there is a reason why people often berate and insult Collinsworth for his rantings on football. Meanwhile, Sabol's pontifications on the NFL are about as close at gospel as it gets.
For us Colts fans, our feelings and thoughts on Manning have always been at odds with what people write and say about him. To call him the "best ever" is no surprise to us. We've always known that. We see him at every game, at every practice, and we know.
We know that no one in the history of pro football has ever done what Peyton does.
With people like me, it has never been about "proving" Peyton is the best. It's common knowledge he's the best, and anyone who disagrees is simply an idiot or a Manning hater. In many cases, they are both.
For me, it has always been about pointing out the inconsistent exceptions associated with Peyton; how critics move the goal posts after every Peyton Manning accomplishment. Critics said he could never win "a big game." When he did, they changed their expectations and said he would never get to a Super Bowl. When he did, they changed their expectations and said he'd never win a Super Bowl. When he did, they changed their expectations and said he needed to win two. And so on...
After winning an NFL record four league MVP awards, a Super Bowl MVP, and his continued assent up the statistical charts in categories like touchdowns, yards, and completion percentage, Sabol's words simply reinforce what most of us have known since 1999: Peyton Manning is the best ever.
Better than Montana.
Better than Unitas.
Better than Elway.
Better than Graham.
Better than anyone at the quarterback position.
Also, just FYI: ESPN called Tom Brady the best quarterback of the 2000s. The ESPN analyst quoted in the article, backing up the Brady selection, was former-Chiefs coach Herm Edwards. Recently, someone asked Herm Edwards on Twitter "if you could start a franchise 2morrow with any player retired or still in the NFL who you got?"
Guess who Edwards' answer was?
Really Herm? Not the best quarterback of the 2000 decade? Not Tom Brady, who is the quarterback in a rather sizable ESPN market, especially compared to the Indianapolis one?
Throw ESPN in with the idiot, Manning hater, or both categories.